Remaining Authentic With Your Music


Every once in a while I get an email asking when I’ll release another volume of sample & breaks mixes.  Well, sorry to say that at this point it doesn’t look like there will ever be another installment.  This is actually due to a couple of reasons, but it mainly comes down to an issue of authenticity.

I’ve always required a certain level of authenticity from myself, which is why all mixes were made using actual vinyl records without containing any reprints, compilations, or digital versions.  This was not done out of some crazy hatred for technology or being stuck in old school ways, but out of pride.  I’ve always believed that a mix, especially one containing original samples, was a way to show off your record collection while at the same time opening others up to new sounds.  There was no fun in putting together a collection of mp3’s, it just didn’t pose a challenge.  Not that there is anything wrong with digital mixes or compilations; the fact of the matter is that times have changed and music along with it, however, one thing that should not change is authenticity. 

Making all-vinyl mixes was my way of remaining authentic, but this concept is not relegated to digital vs. physical music mediums.  Authenticity should be contained in the heart and soul of the artist and music.  A quote from producer 88 Keys immediately comes to mind when thinking about personal challenge and the need to create when he said, "I always felt doing loops was just too easy… I felt like I was kind of getting over on my audience."

The goal of a musician, vocalist, or producer should not just be to put together a hot beat or song.  When composing a artistic work, the goal should be to challenge both yourself and the audience.  Otherwise, what could have been a great creation and opportunity for change simply becomes another disposable consumer item, which I think we all can agree has already become all too common.

The point that I’m getting at with this whole sideways story is that regardless of who sold however many albums this week or whatever publicity stunt was used to promote an upcoming release, the music being produced must remain true to the artist.  Ignore what has been conveyed in magazines, websites, and television; selling one million copies is not the same thing as making great music!  It’s simply a sign of inventive marketing or, in the case of Hip-Hop, further proof that everyone loves a scandal.

The good news is that with the advent of technology and the increasing options and access for independent artists, there is absolutely no need to compromise creativity and vision.  While it’s unlikely that your independent, digital only release would do platinum numbers, there is still a great chance to build an authentic and substantial audience of people who actually love and appreciate a sincere musical connection.  Again, the whole quality versus quantity argument rearing its ugly head.

I implore all site readers, musicians, producers, and beatmakers to approach the making of music as an art rather than a means to reach a monetary or status related goal.  Receiving a track placement and subsequent royalty check is a nice affirmation of your skills, but the act of making music and open self expression is a reward in itself.  While there is certainly a very lucrative business surrounding the sale and marketing of music, the industry would cease to exist without the creative spark and innovative musical experiments.  Focus on making great music first… if you’re able to make a connection, the crowd along with its energy and monetary wealth will eventually follow.

1,127 thoughts on “Remaining Authentic With Your Music”

  1. man im curious about you, you should post a bio or something… did you go to college? you seem really intelligent

  2. No doubt. Semantik – great post. The other day I watched a documetary called, “Hardcore”, about the punk movement in America during the early 80’s. What amazed me was that these kids had no aspirations of ever being on the radio or driving a fancy car, but they were intense and motivated to make music, do shows, and send out a message. They were so real about the music that it was truly threatening to the stutus quo. Personally, I have always thought that hip hop at its most real is urban punk rock. Very few cats in hip hop have that attitude anymore, and many of those that claim some allegiance to hip hop as an art form end up biting the same tired references in their lyrics that you hear in the top ten. I can’t tell you how many times I have started to hear a good verse, only to be let down by a line about “butterfly doors” or “getting brains on my jet.” Its fucking rediculous, and not creative at all. If any music is to be TRUE, it has to be street level. It has to come out a performance-based culture. People have to get together, throw shows, trade cd’s, and do it because its fun and inspiring.

  3. GREAT post Semantik, great. You’re a super well-spoken guy, I often find myself re-reading something of yours because it’s dense. Thoughtful. You touched on something that I’m sure a lot of people think about, but you presented it really well and made me, at least, think about it from a different angle.

    Good reply benjamino, about how “if any music is to be TRUE, it has to be street level.” I agree, and it ties in with this belief I have, which is that often when something is scary, it’s worth doing. Because performing is scary. But it’s worth doing, because everyone involved gets more out of it than they put in. The performer and the audience both.

    Thanks, you made me think.

  4. Def needed to hear something like this. I love making music and never thought of it as a way of getting money and such i just do cuz I love it, but sometimes I feel as if I am torn between bending my ways to fit in whats hot now or just doing it my way. I figure every producer, beatmaker, and artist goes through this. But after reading this I came to the realization that I really won’t get satisfaction going that route. This was very inspiring man thanks.

    The theme music for this should be Madd Props – Da Youngstas

  5. Hell yeah semantik, good read. I only sample from vinyl, and it makes things a lot harder, but I feel much more proud of my finished product.

    Question for you semantik: How do you view the drum kits like you sell on this site? When I first started making beats, I found this site and bought some kits and they were very helpful. As I’ve got more into the game, though, I hardly ever use the kits, except for maybe if I want a good kick sound.

    Keep up the good work my man, loving the site as always.

  6. @fastiv
    Probably no bio coming anytime soon… prefer the anonymity. You guessed right about college though… I have a degree in Psychology & African-Amercian studies.

    agreed… remember back when Hip-Hop dictated trends to corporate america? Now it’s the other way around!

    thanks man… really wasn’t trying to get too deep, just couldn’t get to sleep last night and had to get some stuff off my chest.

    @P Da Beast
    Glad I could be of assistance… It’s all about personal satisfaction. There are much easier, less frustrating ways to make an income and gain recognition. Another thing we have to consider is the type of audience you’d like to be associated with. Without going into specifics or attacking anyone, I see making music as a very deep personal connection and wouldn’t even want to be associated with some fans that support platinum artists. It just so happens that the very types of people that I wouldn’t want to be associated with also have a tendency to stay away from this site. Go figure.

    It’s all a very personal choice. As you can tell, I’m a huge vinyl fan myself, but Hip-Hop (at least the production aspect) is increasingly becoming a electronic genre. My view of production 5 years ago was drastically different from today. I was admittedly a purist who believed that a everything had to be done the long way to remain true. Now I just believe in doing whatever needs to be done to obtain the desired sound whether it be using VST’s, sampling vinyl, hand chopping drums, sound kits, or recording a live musician. I’m just glad that there are no longer any boundaries to music creation.

  7. Man, this type of intelligent communication is scarce on music web sites. Way to go Crate Kings, for real.

  8. I stumbled across this post again, and it’s a great post, but it reminded me of a question I had a while ago that I forgot to ask: the post doesn’t explain its first paragraph, where you say that you’re not likely to make any more original vinyl mixes. From that first paragraph you zoom way out, and make a really thoughtful statement on the larger state of music more generally, but I’m interested in why you say that you, personally, won’t be contributing any more authentic music to the world.

    • I had completely forgotten about this post. I guess the best explanation is that I’v mostly lost the urge to constantly dig for vinyl. I’d rather spend time improving this site than haggle with record dealers for things that will rarely get played. To me, vinyl mixes were aimed at showing off your personal collection. I’d be faking it if I put out a mix that was just a collection of files that I found lying around the net.

      • right, but I bet your personal collection is still fairly impressive, even if you haven’t added to it lately. I guess I can understand that once you stop collecting, your collection is static, and less exciting… but you gotta remember that it’s probably more exciting for other people than it is for you.

        Also, what I liked about your mixes wasn’t only the tracks, but the manner in which you presented them too—the Semantik touch, that no one but Semantik has (by definition). …uh, I’m not really sure what I’m trying to get at here. Thanks for responding, anyway

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